Southland Conference delegation visits ACUPosted August 02, 2012
ABILENE -- A four-person delegation from the Southland Conference wrapped up its visit to ACU on Wednesday as the conference looks to shore up its league membership.
SLC commissioner Tom Burnett, Sam Houston State president Dr. Dana Gibson, Stephen F. Austin State president Dr. Baker Pattillo, and Northwestern State (La.) director of athletics Greg Burke represented the Southland Conference on the visit. The group met with Abilene civic and business leaders and selected ACU alumni for dinner Tuesday night before Wednesday meetings with ACU administrators, faculty, staff, coaches and student-athletes.
Burnett said he was impressed with ACU, its athletics facilities and campus presentation. The next step in the process will be for Burnett to prepare a report on each of the three institutions that the SLC quartet visited -- the University of New Orleans, the University of the Incarnate Word and ACU -- and present those reports to the league's presidents for their consideration.
'It looks like we're coming to a point where we'll make some decisions pretty soon," Burnett said in regards to league membership. "We're here (at ACU) because we're very serious about membership possibilities."
Burnett told the assembled local media on Wednesday that it would be a matter of weeks until the conference decides to extend an offer of SLC membership to ACU or either of the other two schools that were visited. The schools that earn and accept invitations would probably join the Southland Conference in time for the 2013-14 athletic year.
ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley said he believes the university is in a good position, whether it accepts an invitation to the SLC or remains in the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II.
"I don't want to speculate about what might happen, but I believe we're in a good position to move forward if we get an invitation," he said. "Whether we move up to NCAA Division I status and join the Southland or remain in the Lone Star Conference, we know our great athletics tradition will continue."
ACU was a founding member of the Southland Conference, joining Arkansas State, University of Texas-Arlington, Trinity and Lamar in forming the league in 1963. ACU's last athletic year in the conference was 1972-73. The Wildcats have been part of the Lone Star Conference since then.